How to Find the Right Interior Designer College Lafayette Alabama
Once you have made a decision to enroll in an interior designer college near Lafayette AL, it's time to begin the process of picking a school. Even if you have always had a gift for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you get the right training to put your natural abilities to work. And since a number of states do require that interior designers be licensed, depending on your state of residence you may need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's crucial that you perform the appropriate research in order to analyze and compare each college that you are reviewing prior to making your ultimate choice. But where do you start? Many prospective students will kick off their research by searching for interior design courses near their residence and then comparing tuition expenses. While cost and location are key factors when making a decision, they should not be the sole ones. Qualifiers such as accreditation and reputation should be considered also. We will address those issues and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are researching later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training choices are offered.
Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design
Many people confuse interior design for interior decoration and conversely. The principal difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can do business as an interior decorator if they possess a basic knowledge of or a talent for decorating interior areas. However, doing business as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in many states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are taught to make work or living areas functional as well as attractive. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are two general categories that an interior designer in Lafayette AL can specialize in:
- Residential Designing. Interior Designers typically work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of a house, including bedrooms, basements and closets. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, for instance bathrooms or kitchens.
- Commercial Designing. When working on commercial or public spaces, designers frequently focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are areas where aesthetics may be stressed over function. Designs for hospitals and banks may focus more on functionality over looks as the main concern.
There are various areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer must learn, including lighting, color schemes, furniture and acoustics. They must be able to read blue prints and use graphic design in order to create their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Lafayette AL interior designers implement a wide range of skills that help bring about their final creations.
Interior Designer Degree Programs
There are four degree alternatives available in interior design to obtain the training required to begin your new career in Lafayette AL. Your choice will undoubtedly be influenced by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have to commit to your education. But no matter which degree program you opt to enroll in, make certain to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is needed in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination mandated in some states. More will be covered on additional benefits of accreditation later. Following are short descriptions of the interior design degrees that are offered.
- Associate Degree. Interior Design Associate Degrees provide the minimum level of education needed to enter the profession. They take about two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can usually obtain entry level jobs as design assistants.
- Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are four year programs that provide more comprehensive training than the Associate Degree. They cover the creative and technical components of the business needed to become a designer. They are the lowest degree needed by a graduating student in order to obtain an entry level job as an interior designer.
- Master's Degree. These two year programs supply advanced training in design after achieving a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees provide choices in specialty majors for such things as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in their careers.
- Doctorate Degree. Doctorate degrees are primarily for those professionals who desire to teach interior design at a university or college level. The programs differ in length but are usually completed in 3 to 5 years.
In order to work professionally and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", many states mandate that graduates of accredited schools become licensed. In some instances, 2 or more years of field experience may be needed before a candidate can sit for the licensing examination.
Online Interior Designer Classes
For anyone wishing' to attend classes in the convenience of their Lafayette AL homes, there are online accredited interior design colleges. Studying online can be a great option for those students that are working or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus challenging. Classes can instead be attended on a laptop or a personal computer when convenient for the student. For many students online programs may be the only option if no interior design programs are within driving distance. And as an added benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Additional costs for such things as commuting or study materials may be decreased or eliminated also. Just make sure that the college you enroll in is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online schools may also acquire accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on distance or online education. If you have the dedication to acquire your degree without the structure of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design school may be the perfect option for you.
Questions to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have selected the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school has to be within commuting distance from your Lafayette AL home. Naturally if you have decided on attending an online school, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But selecting the cheapest college or the one that is closest to your residence are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are reviewing to get those answers in addition to others in order to help you examine and ultimately pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior design college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Lafayette AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, some States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. So aside from furnishing an exceptional education, the Lafayette AL school you choose should also furnish the appropriate training to pass the NCIDQ examination and fulfill the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and earned your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some help in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is an excellent sign that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also signify that the school has a significant network of Lafayette AL business relationships where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Lafayette AL schools you are reviewing and ask what kind of aid they provide. Many of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges offer partial scholarships while others provide support in obtaining grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Big are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Lafayette AL schools you are reviewing what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Lafayette home, go to the campus and sit in on a few classes. While there talk with a few students and find out what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Accessible that Fit your Schedule? Last, confirm that the interior designer college you enroll in offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Lafayette AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, find out what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, sickness or family obligations.
Select the Ideal Lafayette Interior Design School
Selecting the ideal interior designer college is a crucial first step toward starting your career in this creative and gratifying occupation. Searching for a school where you will receive your training and cultivate your skills in a particular area of study is a challenging task no matter what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to attain an advanced education, there are many factors to consider before selecting a course, program or school. At a minimum, make sure that the program and design school are both accredited and highly respected in the profession. But it is still important that you perform your due diligence research. By doing so and following the rest of the recommendations provided in this article, you will be able to effectively assess and compare interior design schools so that you can make the right final selection. And with superior training and your drive to succeed, you can achieve your goal of becoming an interior designer in Lafayette AL.